self care

In my garden: lessons learned

Remember when I said this was the year I’d learn to garden? Things didn’t go quite as planned — but that hasn’t stopped me from learning some important lessons in my garden this summer.

lessons learned in my garden

Birds eat apples. So do squirrels.

And they’re greedy little critters. My apple trees are going to have to step up their game if I’m ever going to make an apple pie from my own apples.

It is entirely okay to stick with what I’m good at.

Thankfully, the list of plants I am good at growing is long and includes some of my favorites, like coneflowers, day lilies, irises, bee balm, and lambs ear, plus all sorts of flowering shrubs. And y’all, I can grow some serious blueberries that make anything store bought seem like tasteless cardboard.


I am a tree whisperer.

Every tree I’ve planted in the past ten years we’ve lived here is doing fabulously!

  • magnolia
  • kwanzan cherry
  • silver maple
  • red maple
  • pink dogwood
  • ornamental plum
  • japanese maple
  • live oak
  • apple and peach
  • redbud

Focus on what matters.

I’ve figured out that birds and butterflies matter more to me than manicured flower beds. I’ve done well creating a bird and butterfly-friendly yard, and that brings me joy every day. My hummingbirds love the plants as much as they love the feeders, and I have 29 species on my list of birds seen in our yard this year.

swallowtail butterfly

Some things are worth my time and energy. Some aren’t.

This year I’d planned on doing a whole vegetable garden, but ended up doing nothing at all. Next year I’ll do tomatoes in pots, which has worked well for me in the past, but a full garden is not realistic and I’d be setting myself up for frustration and failure. Also not worthwhile right now: composting.

bumble bee

I stink at weed control.

I can’t bring myself to share photos that show the weeds; it’s downright shameful, y’all! And friends, please take my advice: NEVER EVER NEVER plant mint in the ground, and when little wild violets pop up in your flower bed, DO NOT BE FOOLED by their innocent appearance because they are evil. {Insert profound spiritual analogy here; I think of them every time I’m weeding!}

It’s okay not to do it all.

I’ll keep learning — but I’ve let myself off the hook about things that are unrealistic at this point in life. I know enough to have a deep appreciation for nature and gardening, and I’m passing at least a little bit of that on to my kids. When it comes down to it, that’s really always been my biggest goal.

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This is a beautiful post, Jamie! I’d love to have you join in the “Garden Lessons Learned” meme on my blog. You can simply add your link to a comment on this post: Cheers!